Mayor anticipated favorable result last December
By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
The Sandiganbayan Fourth Division recently released their decision to dismiss the graft case against Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia and eight other city officials over the P50 million purchase of furniture and fixtures for the Bacolod City Government Center in 2008.
Last year, the 18th Division of the Court of Appeals-Cebu also dismissed the same case. According to the decision signed by Associate Justice Germano Francisco D. Legaspi, Associate Justice Marilyn B. Lagura-Yap, and Executive Justice Gabriel T. Ingles, “There is no showing that the acts, which purportedly transgressed the IRR of RA 9184 (the Government Procurement Reform Act), were tainted with corruption or that petitioners benefitted.”
“We reject the findings of the Office of the Ombudsman relative to the petitioner’s liability for grave misconduct and gross neglect of duty,” the decision affirmed.
Aside from Leonardia, charges were also dismissed against city officials Goldwyn Nifras, Luzviminda Treyes, Nelson Sedillo, Sr., Belly Aguillon, Eduardo Ravena, Aladino Agbones, Jaries Ebenizer Encabo, and Melvin Recabar.
The Sandiganbayan decision, signed by Associate Justice Alex Quiroz, also lifted hold departure orders against the respondents.
Back in the December 2017, the mayor said he was optimistic about the then-pending case.
“We are very hopeful that the [Sandiganbayan] will see this case as the [Court of Appeals] also saw it,” he said in the statement. “We have valid reasons to be hopeful.”
In December 2016, the Ombudsman ordered the dismissal of Leonardia and the other officials after the anti-graft body found probable cause to charge them. According to the Ombudsman, Comfac, a company primarily engaged in information technology systems integration, was ineligible to bid for the procurement contract because it was a distributor and not a manufacturer of furniture.
The Ombudsman also questioned a payment of P57,600 for liquidated damages, when it should have been P14.1 million due to Comfac’s late deliveries. The company reportedly completed all deliveries one year and eight months after the agreed-upon delivery date./DGB, WDJ